The Philippines and Iran are looking at initiating high-level contacts to discuss various areas of cooperation such as agriculture, trade and investment, technology, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.
In welcoming Yousef Esmaeilzadeh, Iran’s new resident ambassador to the Philippines on Thursday, President Marcos said his country has much to learn from all its allies, friends and partners around the world and such partnership would be very useful for both the Philippines and Iran.
“The Philippines now is continuing to foster new partnerships between what we have come to call non-traditional partners. It is a lesson that we have learned from the pandemic when the time came when trade or all the exchanges had to stop for reasons of health and we realize that we have to build up the agricultural economy so that we can support at least as a foundation for the rest of the development of our economy,” Marcos told Ambassador Esmaeilzadeh.
Esmaeilzadeh paid a courtesy call to President Marcos in Malacañang.
“We, in the Philippines believe, I sincerely believe that the transformation of our economies and the stability of our transformation into the new economies are going to be made stable by partnerships and agreements with as many partners as possible and, considering the long-standing relationship that Iran and the Philippines has, I think that this is not something new, but I think it is something that we can look into and explore,” Marcos told the Iranian envoy.
According to Marcos, the Philippines’ number one priority right now is agriculture, as it tries to adjust to the agricultural terrain around the world with all the volatility in the global food supply system.
The existing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) agreed by the two countries could serve as a good basis for all their future collaborations in many areas, the President said.
These include nano-technology programs, biomedical devices, science and technology, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges.
“So, there is a lot of green space for us to begin our work and I hope that with your assumption of the duty as the ambassador that we will be able to explore many of these possibilities. And, hopefully, we will come to some specific and constructive arrangements for our two countries. I look forward to those discussions, Mr. Ambassador,” he said.
Esmaeilzadeh said Iran has been focusing on Asia especially in the ASEAN as it develops its economy.
“So, in that, we have a good relation with some other members of the ASEAN. So, we’d like to increase trade and economic relations between Iran and the Philippines. In that case, we can do several economic subject,” he said.
In terms of agriculture, Esmaeilzadeh raised the possibility of organizing a barter, with Iran sending the Philippines fertilizer as well as importing its tropical fruits.
The two countries can also cooperate on science, and maritime security wherein, he said, Iran is doing very well.
The two nations can also start people-to-people exchanges that cover different fields.
“So, this is our idea. We can do well to develop our relationship. So, as you know, we are [celebrating] our 60th anniversary in January next year. If possible, we can do very well to exchange high-level delegation. More than 20 years, near 30 years, we don’t have high-level delegation,” Esmaeilzadeh said.
The Philippines and Iran established diplomatic relations on January 22, 1964, with the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan initially having jurisdiction over Iran. On August 16, 1974, the Philippines established its resident embassy in Tehran.
There are currently 1,181 Filipinos in Iran. Of this number, 999 are permanent migrants (mostly married to Iranian nationals), 124 are documented or temporary migrants, and, 59 are undocumented.
The Philippines and Iran have a long history of science and technology cooperation, with both countries signing an MOU on scientific and technical cooperation in 1964, which was renewed several times.
In 2019, the Philippines and Iran signed the MOU on Science and Technology Cooperation, which covers several priority areas such as agriculture and biotechnology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology.
MS Nanotechnology program; procurement of biomedical devices; and acquisition of Tocilizumab vials are currently the three projects under the Philippines-Iran partnership. PND